And the winners are The First Man booker winner and our shadow winner as well

 

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Well It has just been announced that the winner of the first year of the New Man booker international prize is

The Vegetarian by Han Kang Translator I’m so pleased this won as it is a hugely popular book , If not with my self as much as some of my fellow jurors , but it was the clear winner in the shadow Jury.I have meet Deborah and seen her start her publishing house via twitter it is a great day for nritish translation and translators.

Earlier today we announced our shadow winner

The vegetarian by Han Kang Translator Deborah Smith

, as I was busy I decide to combine my post. But I will point you in the way of a post from the weekend by my fellow chair of the Shadow Jury on the years we have both shadow the prize . I enjoyed doing the shadow jury again. I look back as this year Lisa help put together a list of combined reviews . AGain we have reviewed every book at least three times like in our other years. Yhis year saw a shot out between our winner Vegetarian and Death by water by Kenzaburo Oe which nearly won this year showing the quality of this years shortlist and longlist. Thanks to all the shadow Jury again we have shown the depth of books in translation !!

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Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye

Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye

French Fiction

Original title – Ladivine

Translator – Jordan Stump

Source- Review Copy

Winstons score A- A solid book from one of the current  stars of french lit, shows how hard it is to try escape one’s past.

Well I was pleased this was on the man booker I knew another novel from this writer was in the pipeline from maclehose and the fact it got the nod on the first man booker list means we got to read it a week earlier than planned. In my score I said a star Marie Ndiaye is she has won numerous prize including the top prize for French literature the Prix Goncourt For her novel Three strong women which I reviewed a few years ago.

She was Malainka again the moment she got on the strain she found it neither a pleasure or a burden, having long since stopped noticing.

But it happened, she could tell, for no more could she answer without a second thought to Clarisse when rarely, someone she knew took that same train and called to greeted her as Clarisse, only to see her stare back in puzzled surprise, a hesitant smile on her lips, creating a mutual discomfort that the slightly flustered Clarisse never thought to dispel by simply echoing that hello, that how are you offhandedly as she could

The past and present are shown in the opening lines of the book As a Malinka now Clarisse is caught en route to mum.

 

Ladivine remind me in some ways of Three strong women as again Ndiaye has used three women as the main backbone of this story. But this time they are all in the same story and the story focus on Clarisse rivers mother and daughter in the story. She is the  daughter to Ladivine the woman of the title of the book, her poor mother who has worked hard all here life as a lowly housekeeper. Clarisse has wanted to hide her past after growing up and away from her mother and her past even her name is different  . She has married a successful man Richard Rivere  and pretends her past isn’t there. But this hiding from her husband eventually leads to the break up of her marriage and her meeting a new partner this is where we meet Her daughter Also called Ladivine like the grandmother Ladivine Rivere , that has grave worries other her mothers new boyfriend Freddy and what he really wants with her mother !

Clarisse Rivere felt herself floating back and forth on a warm, thick swell. Whose density stilled any move she might try to make. She didn’t want to move anyway, because it would hurt, it would hurt terribly, she knew, if she made attempts to change her position. She couldn’t remember if she was sitting and standing , lying or crouching, outdoor or at home, but it didn’t much matter. She had to place her faith in the mindless but confident perseverance of the heavy, dense tide now carrying her off

This passage shows the power of Ndiaye and her way to draw you into her characters worlds.

 

This is one of those family sagas that draws you in and I think it is Ndiayes writing her characters always jump of the page to me  and become so real. We all have met a Clarisse in our lives that woman who has made it but wants to runaway from her past. I was reminded of the lines Hanibal lector said in silence of the Lambs to agent starling about being one genration away from white trash . This is the sense with Clarisse even a change in name and pretending your mother is dead isn’t enough But why try to esacape your past and give your daughter your mothers name these are all questions you ask yourself. This is a great look into how we treat people in the world. It also shows how having secrets and things to hide can also draw you into more danger. A real book for anyone that Like Three strong woman or writers Like Zadie Smith or Jhumpa Lahiri both writer that capture their own worlds so well like Ndiaye does her a world of wanting to be accepted but having a past.

Have you read Ndiaye ?

The four books by Yan Lianke

 

The four books by Yan Lianke

Chinese fiction

Original title – 创建“四书

Translator – Carlos Rojas

Source – Library book

Well I have mentioned before my struggle with Modern Chinese fiction a country so large and growing huge megacities that seems to lack at the moment books capturing the Zeitgeist of these cities and the madness of the growth. That aside this is the second book by Yan Lianke I have reviewed and both have been on the longlist for a prize the Last Dreams of Ding Village was on the old IFFP longlist and this is on the First Man booker. I maybe enjoyed Dream of Ding village than my fellow jurors a few years ago so had high hopes of a book that the writer himself had been working 20 years on and took two year to write. He want to write a true account of the Mao sent people for re-education.As Tony and I say there has to be an Issue book on the longlist and this is this years.

I recommend that the Higher-ups would be well served if they carefully monitor the Musician’s capitalist behaviour and tendencies. A single ant hole can cause an entire dike to collapse.We can not permit the Musician’s petty bourgeois feminine sensibility to infect our Re-Ed district.

Part of the sections called Criminal records, which is written by The Kid as he found a french novel in her poscket.Which he will later burn.

As I said in the intro The book follows a group of  intellectuals  that have in the late fifties been sent to one of Mao’s notorious re-education class.An author , Musician ,Scholar, Theologian and Technician all at area 99. In charge of these men is a younger man called the child part of the book is made up of his observations and how he punishes the prisoners that break the rules.This is all in the part called criminal records. Then there is bits of the Authors novel and two other books that could be described as works of philosophy. What we see is how These clever people,  have to bend and try to avoid being broken in a camp run by a teen that has been given to much power and has gone slightly crazy with it the horrors he inflicts are terrible to our eyes but in his is maybe like a modern kid playing some brutal video game.

the child was delighted, and even sang a little song. He turned around and waved, saying” hurry up! Now that we have produced a hundred tons of steel, we’ll finally be able to eat meat tonight ”

And in fact, they did have meat to eat. They weighted the steel, recorded the weight in a notebook, then used an abacus to add it all up. The accountant shouted in delight.”Ah you are the first to reach a hundred tons!” He grabbed the ledger and rushed into the building whereupon the higher-up took the ledger and walked back out smiling, he shook the child’s hand and said “Congratulations, this is wonderful.You are the first to reach One hundred tons”

They make Steel which they all hate but the child drives them to make himself look good .

I felt this book was better in its overall feel than dream of ding village. Yan Lianke has tried to tackle Mao’s great leap forward in a fresh honest way. I see it took more than 20 publishers to look at the book before he found someone willing to publish this book and it is still banned in the mainland of China. The men in the camp show how easy ir is to lose ones identity just been called by a name the way the camp is run remind me of the way Stanford prison experiment showed how people easily fit into the roles of prisoner being just a number or in this case a Job and then The guard shown by The kid that shows how easily power can take over a person in control. Yan Lianke has managed to life the lid on the brutal years of the Mao regime and the way the great leap forward broke and in many ways set the country back and maybe lead the country to the events in the country of the early 90’s .I expect this to make actual shortlist as Boyd seems to be a huge Chinese lit fan.

Have you a favourite Chinese writer

 

A general theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

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A general theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

Angolan fiction

Original title – Teoria Geral do Esquecimento

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – copy from translator

I was lucky that Daniel saw I was after this when it was mentioned on the longlist for the Man booker international prize. He said he had a spare copy of the us edition (extra bonus as it is an archipelago books copy so very pretty as well ) . I had looked for this on ,my library system just before the man booker but they hadn’t a copy as the book of chameleon by Jose Eduardo Agualusa an earlier book by him had won the prize and also been one I had really enjoyed. Jose Eduardo Agualusa  is not just a writer,  he has a radio show dedicate to African song and poetry and also publish books from around the Portuguese speaking world .

Ludo opened the box. Inside, looking fearfully at her, she found a little white newborn puppy.

“He’s a male. A German shepherd ” Orlando explained. “They grow quickly. This one’s an albino, rather unusual. He shouldn’t get too much sun. What are you going to call him ?”

Ludo didn’t hesitate

“Phantom!”

“Phantom?”

Orlando shrugged his bony shoulders

“Very well. Then Phantom he shall be ”

Ludo gets her dog. Now the strange thing is my Mum has a dog his name is also Phantom he is a greyhound thou I love the way books and real life cross sometimes.

A general theory of Oblivion follows one woman story but not just that the story of her home and homeland post freedom Ludo a woman decides on the eve of Angola becoming a free country to brick herself away from the outside world into her apartment. What follows is a collection of her life and what she glimpses from behind the walls . As she faces life through her collection of books her albino German shepherd dog, also her memories of a man who might have been the one Orlando and the radio the only link to the world apart from the glimpse and chance encounter she has over a number of year like a burglar that she encounters. The book is a wonderful mix of life and dramas real and imagine worlds and how someone avoids madness just in more than thirty years apart from the real world.

The days slide by as if they were liquid. I have no more notebooks to write in. I have no more pens either. I write on the walls, with pieces of charcoal, brief lines.

I save on food, on water, and on adjectives.

I think about Orlando. I hated him, at first. Then I began to see his appeal. He could be very seductive. One man and two women under the same roof- a dangerous combination.

A  short piece this captures almost her being on the edge of madness in her words as she remembers the past and Orlando .

From what I have read I think this novel is actually based on the real life person . Her notebooks Diaries and poems that where all collected after she died after spending 28 years cut off from the world. It seems Jose was given access to this body of work initially to write a radio play. That is odd as I felt when I finished this book  the small pieces that make this book up are almost like turning a radio dial through the years that Ludo had spent apart but also like gems in the dirt of african history waiting to be unearthed. I can see the mix of styles in this book can put the reader off but to me they drew me in as we see Ludo and her world and how her world starts to slowly fall apart from the lose of her dog, to having to burn her books and then the end. But what we also see through these piece is a glimpse of the past and present in Angola using both the real world and a mythical world.  This book shows why we maybe should be trying to get more books out of the Lusophone world!

Have you read any of the other books By Jose ?

A whole life by Robert Seethaler

A Whole life by Robert Seethaler

Austrian fiction

Original title – Ein ganzes Leben

Translator – Charlotte Collins

Source – Library book

Every year on the Old IFFP and now on the first man booker there is a book on the list that I hadn’t heard of and a writer that is new to me and this was this years book. Robert Seethaler is an austrian writer, the german wiki page says he has sight problems so went to a school for the blind. Then drama school , he is an actor as well as a scriptwriter. He has also written five novels this is his fifth novel.His first to be translated . I am pleased to see his fourth novel The tobacconist is in the pipeline to be translated.

 In 1910 a school was built in the village, and every morning, after tending to the livestock, little Egger sat with the other children, in a classroom that stank of fresh tar, learning reading, writing and arithmetic. He learned slowly and as if against a hidden inner resistance, but over time a kind of meaning began to crystallize out of the chaos of dots and dashes on the school blackboard until at last he was able to read books without pictures, which awoke in him ideas and also certain anxieties about the worlds beyond the valley.

I was reminded of the Herzog actor Bruno S a man who never is in time with the world either .

I must admit I am so pleased this was on the longlist as it may have passed me by maybe until,a german lit month. This book is the story of one mans life Andreas Egger a man who arrives and then spend the rest of his life in one small mountain valley. This is the early 20th century and the world Andreas is living in is slowly giving way to the modern world as we see through his eyes bit by bit his life but the world he lives in getting to grips with the modern world. From his arrival to work on his uncles farm where he first met the woman he loves over time Marie but this is a love that will never be.So as Andreas First build cable cars, then help electricity then the war take him away from the farm and the valley he always come back to the world he is meant to be in. As much as he tried to escape .

That was in the late fifties. It was only much later, in the summer of 1969, that Egger had a second encounter with the television – which in most households by then already constituted the central focus and primary purpose of the evening family gathering – that made a profound impression on him, albeit in an entirely different way. This time he was sitting with almost a hundred and fifty other villages in the assembly room of the new parish hall, watching two young americans walk on the moon for the first time.

A world no gone without tv or wanting to see a tv Eggger is really a man out of time in his valley .

I must admit I loved this book  it is a really pretty gem. I was reminded of  one of my favourite books Stones in a landslide Andreas life and the way he lives in the valley that is sort of out of time with the world around them remind me of the world in Stones in a landslide. I also pictured this in a way as being a lost script for a Werner  Herzog film on the other hand Andreas is a simple man like most of the classic roles in the 70’s Herzog films, a man who has the world against him in the way like the classic Bruno S films  Herzog made . A beautiful world of the valley is like quicksand slowly killing the man but not just the man but also his spirit is slowly dragged into the ground of the valley.As for man booker I feel the simple sparse nature of the narrative that as the Irish times review saaid remind that review of Stoner as for me I felt this is a better book than Stoner which I may be the one person that felt stoner was like a  afternoon film of one mans life. No egger is a character you believe in he is like a man in the background of Heidi brought to the fore.

Have you read this book ?

A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar

A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar

Brazilian Fiction

Original title – Um Copo de Colera

Translator – Stefan Tobler

Source – Personnel copy

Now this may be the oddest title on the first Man booker international longlist as it is hard to place is it a long short story a short Novella or something else this book is under fifty pages long. I had just the week before the longlist had been announced looked for this title on my local Library system but had only found the other book penguin had brought out by the Brazilian writer Raduan Nassar. He is a now a farmer retired. He wrote the two books mentioned and worked in news papers as an editor. Then in 1984 he gave up the writing as he had bored with it to become a farmer.

My coming nakedness and soon I heard her breathing in deeply, over by the chair, where she had perhaps already given in to her desperation, struggling to take off her clothes, getting her finger caught in the straps slipping down her arm, and I , still faking , knew that all of that was real, oh how I knew her nightmarish obsession for feet, and for my feet in particular, their firm step and well shaped form, a little bony around the toes perhaps and nervously marked with veins and tendons on the instep, though they hadn’t lost the shy manner of a tender root.

Early on in bed the man and woman start getting frisky and he remarks how she likes his feet.

Now it is strange he choose to be a farmer as this is the setting for this most unusual story told in a classic stream of consciousness  it is told from the point of view of an older man as he awakes starts his day making love to his younger wife. He then is sidetracked by some ants and other things in the house which leads to an argument between the two . The wife then heads out . Now that is it a lot to fit in under fifty pages . I think this is one over the next few year I will read and reread and still wonder every time I do so .

Under the shower I let her hands slide over my body, and her hands were inexhaustible, and they ran searchingly through all the foam, and they came and went tirelessly, and our soaked bodies now and again pressed against each other so that her hands could reach my back in an embrace, and I enjoyed all this movement, sinuous and vague, that provoked sudden, hidden jolts, and seeing that those hands were already taking advantage of my darkest corners – even combing through the threads at the badly stitched seam of the groin (and secretly weighing the soapy packet of my member) – I said ‘wash my head, I’m in a hurry’, and then, pulling me out from under the stream of water, her hands immediately penetrated my hair, rubbing firmly with her fingers, massaging my scalp with her nails, scratching my nape in a way that sent me crazy, to my core

And after the bed they meet in the shower he manages to get the feeling just right I feel .

The fact I was already looking into reading Nassar, means I felt he was a writer I would enjoy. Nick Lezzard also wetted my appetitie in his review mention Thomas Bernhard, but for me the only real connection to him was the fact that he like Bernhard isn’t very keen on a full stop. The whole story is like one long thought in the mind of the older man. No for me I was reminded of the classic modernist piece like Joyce’s Ulysses which in the sex here you can see in the later passages of Joyce’s piece. A relationship not working or problems reminded me of Woolf’s Mrs Dallowway and of course like both these works the action is set over the course of one day . Now that isn’t to say this hasn’t connection to other writers in Latin america of course Lispector a fellow Brazilian and also a writer using Modernist ticks in her writing . I was also reminded of one of my favourite Cuban writers Infante three trapped tigers like this is set over a day and has a similar rhythmic feel to the prose. Now that is enough praise my main problem was what is this it is like a clip from a great novel or a long-lost short story from a great collection . I wanted more than this as wonderful as it is it is like going for a meal and leaving after a wonderful starter if you know what I mean . Stefan piece in the independent about meeting him is very interesting . Now for Man booker I thing this will probably make shortlist as it is a challenging read and different to anything about at the moment .

Have you read this book or ancient tillage ?

 

Man booker international longlist 2016 my thoughts

 

The list is as follows plus my short view of each book

José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola) Daniel Hahn, A General Theory of Oblivion (Harvill Secker)

I loved his Book of Chameleons which I reviewed a few years ago , this was one of two books back in January I tried to get from the library but couldn’t get as they hadn’t got it . I have yet to get this one

Elena Ferrante (Italy) Ann Goldstein, The Story of the Lost Child (Europa Editions)

Well I am pleased she has finally made a longlist, although I have struggled to read Ferrante, but will treat this as a stand alone book .I order my editon at 2 this morning from the library.

Han Kang (South Korea) Deborah Smith, The Vegetarian (Portobello Books)

One I got right a triptych of stories around one woman and her life . My review 

Maylis de Kerangal (France) Jessica Moore, Mend the Living (Maclehose Press)

I loved this one and it just missed the cut of my list yesterday so pleasedktis on the actual list . A pulsating day as one mans heart goes on a journey . MY review 

Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia) Labodalih Sembiring, Man Tiger (Verso Books)

This was the other book I tried to get at the start of the year as it like the Agualusa was on Boyd’s end of year list last year . I have yet to get this one

Yan Lianke (China) Carlos Rojas, The Four Books (Chatto & Windus)

I read Dream of Ding village that was also on the old IFFP list here is my review  .I ordered this from the library

Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo/Austria) Roland Glasser, Tram 83 (Jacaranda)

My second one right so leased to see this it was such a fast paced and well translated book here is my review .

Raduan Nassar (Brazil) Stefan Tobler, A Cup of Rage (Penguin Modern Classics)

Strange I got the other book Penguin had brought out just this week by this writer so I will have to order this as I wanted this but my library only had Ancient Tillage .

Marie NDiaye (France) Jordan Stump, Ladivine (Maclehose Press)

I reviewed three strong women by Marie which I reviewed here  and am looking forward to this as it is yet to come out .

death by water by kenzaburo Oe

Kenzaburō Ōe (Japan) Deborah Boliner Boem, Death by Water (Atlantic Books)

I have read this and said to Tony not thinking it would that it would make the longlist well it did great see a later book from a great writer like Oe . My review 

Aki Ollikainen (Finland) Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah, White Hunger (Peirene Press)

I just missed this yesterday so many books so few spaces in my 13 as ever a great book from Peirene on the list this is a powerful tale on surviving hunger . My review 

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Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) Ekin Oklap, A Strangeness in My Mind (Faber & Faber)

I should guessed this would be on the list his other books have been on the old IFFP list . I am even more pleased to have read the longest book on the long list here is my review .

Robert Seethaler (Austria) Charlotte Collins, A Whole Life (Picador)

Every year there is one that had passed me by totally and this is the one I have ordered it from the library and looking forward to it .

Well Tony had some bits right in his post yesterday. This is much same as last few IFFP list with a couple of extra books I feellike the Ferrant and Tram 83. Still shocked why Istros hasn’t got a book again or world editions. BUt I have seven new books to read in the next few weeks .

Man booker international prize prediction post 2016

Well today is the day before the Man booker announce the first Man booker international prize longlist, the new name for the Indpendent foreign fiction prize. I don’t see much change in the books being picked this year Boyd is still the chair and so I feel the list may have a similar feel to other years. Last year i was miles of the mark with my predictions so lets see how I do this year with my 13 choices .

1.

The great swindle by Pierre Lemaitre

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This won the French Prix Goncourt slow burning book but very much an homage to french writing of the time the book is set ww1 and just after . My review 

2

The Meursault investigation

themeursaultinvestigation

I said this when I reviewed it every few years a book in translation seems to break free and become a  favourite of every one and this book is one such example. A retelling of Camus outsider from the Arab point of view .My review

3

Exiles by Ciler Ilhan

This was my favourite short story collection from last year and Ciler bravely touch many taboo subjects in Turkish society such as Honour killings . My review  

4

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

MichelHouellebecqSubmission

A dystopia france where a Arab led coalition has taken charge seen from a laid back lectures point of view who doesn’t see whats happening to it is too late. This is the one that was on the cover of Charlie Hebdo the week the magazine was attack My review

5

The vegetarian by Han Kang

A triptych of stories around a womans choice to become vegetarian and also her sexual awakening in a way. I like this book although was a tad over hyped by some. My review 

6

She is not me by Golnaz Hashemzadeh

 

She Is Not MeI think one World edition title should be pn the longlist they took uk by storm publishing 21 titles last year most of those in translation I loved this tale of trying to fit in as a teen in Sweden.My review 

7

Wilful disregard by Lena Andersson

 

A love story a woman falls for an artist and it is down hil from there . I loved the beauty of the writing in this one .My review 

8

What became of the white savage by Francois Garde

 

A man become shipwrecked in the 1840 and goes native in the Australi of the time . This is the story of that time ansd what happened when he returned to france a Priz Goncourt first novel winner .My review 

9

Signs preceeding the end of the world by Yuri Herrea

Signs Preceding the End of the World_CMYK SMALL

A sister takes two messages to her brother in the US a mythic like trip as Yuri has removed any sense of place or time to the story. My review 

10

My documents by Alejandro Zambra

Another short story collection this time by the Chilean Aljandro Zambra, I loved these I said when I reviewed his novellas he would be a great short story-teller . My favourite was one about a disgraced footballer that fake an injury during a world cup match . My review 

11

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila

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A high octanne look at  life in Congo as there is no law and people trying to make money steal money and some just to get by the best they can in this mad world . My review

12

The boy who stole Attila’s  horse by Ivan Repila

theboywhostoleattilashorse

Two boys fell down a well this is the tale of what happened after that .Well written .My review

13

Well I decide to name a trio of Spanish books that just on the edge in my opinion two I reviewed on I am part way in .

Out in the open by Jesus Carrasco

The Ilogic of Kassel by Enrique Vila-Matas

In the night of time by Antonio Munoz Molina

 

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